No blunder in Nandigram, Singur: Yechuri
New Delhi, Jan 13: CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri does not feelNandigram and Singur incidents have dented the image of the West Bengalgovernment and the party, and insists newspapers were wrong inreporting that Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee has admitted to a''big blunder'' in Nandigram.
In an interview to Mr Karan Thapar for the CNN-IBN programme,Devil's Advocate, the CPI(M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP alsorefuted Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's claim that land hadbeen forcibly acquired in Singur.
''Not at all. No. We have brought this entire question ofcompensation to the national agenda. The compensation we are giving inSingur is the best and the most exemplary. And now everybody will haveto follow suit,'' he said in reply to a question whether the twoincidents had damaged the reputation of the state government.
Mr Yechuri went further when he fervently, repeatedly and,sometimes, angrily denied that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjeehad admitted that ''a big blunder'' had occurred in Nandigram:''There's no blunder. I'm sorry. Don't quote to me what appears in thepress. I know what he said.'' When Devil's Advocate quoted entiresentences reported on January 10 by newspapers such as The IndianExpress, The Hindustan Times and The Telegraph where the Chief Ministerwas quoted to have said ''it happened because of our mistake. It was abig blunder and the principal cause of the mayhem that followed''(Hindustan Times) and ''the government has committed a blunder byissuing a notice on land acquisition in Nandigram'' (The Telegraph), MrYechuri said: ''It was not said to journalists. They all picked it upfrom God knows where.''
Instead, Mr Yechuri insisted that the authenticversion of the Chief Minister was available on the West BengalGovernment's website where, according to Mr Yechuri, the Chief Ministersaid: ''The Haldia Development Authority issued some instruction whichwas not its mandate. That instruction is the cause for a lot ofconfusion. Please go by his (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's) writtenstatement which is available on the web and where he says it was (doneby) the Development Authority which has no authority on this issue.''Insisting that neither Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee nor theWest Bengal Government had made a blunder or admitted to a blunder, MrYechuri made the following points.
First, he said that the West Bengal Government had not issued any notice for land acquisition in Nandigram.
Second, he said that the Haldia Development Authority had onlyissued ''some instruction'' but not an actual notification for landacquisition.
Third, he added that the Haldia Development Authority did not have the mandate to issue a notice for land acquisition.
As he explained: ''The question of land acquisition is a rightwhich the State Government has. Any other authority that may issue anyother orders is absolutely out of its mandate.''
Further, Mr Yechuri insisted that as soon as the action by the HaldiaDevelopment Authority had come to light the West Bengal Governmentimmediately acted to revoke the order. Referring to the statementissued by the Politburo of the CPM in Delhi on the January 9, where itsaid: ''As far as the specific violent incidents related to Nandigramis concerned, there has been no notice issued for land acquisition,''Mr Yechuri insisted that this was not contradicted by the ChiefMinister's admission a few hours later that the Haldia DevelopmentAuthority had issued notices: ''What we were saying is actuallyrepresenting the situation whereby the State Government has not issuedany notification for land acquisition. The Haldia Development Authoritycannot issue a land acquisition notice. The Haldia DevelopmentAuthority has no authority to issue any land acquisition notice.''
Inthe Devil's Advocate interview Mr Yechuri was also questioned closelyabout Ms Mamata Banerjee's claim regarding the acquisition of land atSingur.
Asked how the government's position that 954 acres out of therequired 997 had been voluntarily surrendered can stand up against MsMamata Banerjee's assertion that the owners of 464 acres - 46 per centof the total - had filed affidavits at the Chander Nagar courtasserting that they had refused to sell their land and refused toaccept compensation, Mr. Yechuri replied: ''What she has given is beinginquired into by the state government and till now 350 acres of whatshe claims as part of the acquired land is outside of this land. Theaffidavits that have been filed do not fall under the purview of theacquired land. 350 acres is entirely from outside.''
Asked why thepromise made on the December 28 by Mr Nirupam Sen, Industries Ministerin the West Bengal Government, to publish ''very soon'' the full listof names of people who have voluntarily surrendered 954 acres of land,has still not been fulfilled, Mr Yechuri first claimed that this hadbeen done by the refutation of Ms Banerjee's claim and then, underfurther questioning, insisted that the list has been published on theWest Bengal Government's website.
Finally, when Devil's Advocate asked Mr Yechuri why Section 144was necessary in Singur if 954 acres - 95 per cent of the total - hadbeen surrendered voluntarily, he replied: ''Because of the politicsthat has been there in Bengal for a long time. There have beenincidents in Keshpur and Garbeta some years ago when outsiders go therewith arms, create violence and mayhem, and on that basis politics issought to be played out. Now Section 144 was imposed when outsiderswith arms went there (to Singur) and attacked. Like in Nandigram aswell. In the first instance of violence 19 people were injured and 16are policemen.
So who's attacking whom? They are going there with arms in orderto create violence and mayhem.'' Questioned about claims made by theTrinamool Congress, as well as by prominent individuals such as SumitSarkar and Arundhati Roy that brutal physical violence had been used toforce people in Singur to surrender their land, Mr Yechuri maintained:''I contest very very strongly that all of this happened through bruteforce. When Mamata Banerjee and Medha Patkar were there on dharna youhad people queuing up to collect compensation cheques.
Why? Why are they accepting this package?'' On the subject ofsharecroppers, Mr Yechuri denied claims that they have been left out ofthe West Bengal Government's compensation package. However, he acceptedthat there are a large number of unregistered sharecroppers butinsisted that as soon as their claim has been verified and establishedthey will be compensated along with registered sharecroppers.